Looking at social media, it’s easy to assume that Canada is like a left-leaning version of the United States. Celebrities promise to move there if elections don’t go their way, but they almost never actually do it. We’re also reminded regularly by Canadian Twitter users that we’re dumb when things go wrong that they don’t think happen in Canada. So, a recent article at CBC about some remarks Alberta’s premier (the rough provincial equivalent to U.S. governors) made about renewable energy might sound a little shocking at first.
One of our readers was a little shocked, too, and asked us to explain why she’s wrong. So, we’re going to do that. But first, let’s put this in perspective for U.S. readers (as best as I can from New Mexico).
Let’s go back to around 400 million years ago, when the Rocky Mountains were forming. Some stuff went up (forming the mountains), while other stuff went down (most of the middle of what would become the U.S. and Canada). The stuff that went up stayed high and dry, but what went down was below sea level, and the water made its way in, forming a big but somewhat shallow sea now called the Western Interior Seaway.
At greatest extent, the sea connected the Arctic Ocean with the Gulf of Mexico, but over time it changed and then dried up as land uplifted again. By the time of triceratops, it was pretty much dried up except for some lakes that were left behind. During that window of wetness, sea life was abundant, including all sorts of reef life (which formed the tallest mountains in Texas today), fish, and plants. Over time, all of this organic matter got buried on the bottom over and over in different layers, and then was subjected to heat and pressure.
Nature selected all of those living things for extinction, and now the premier of Alberta is helping them to fight back. Their remains eventually turned to oil and gas, and she’s pretty big on the idea of bringing our dino and planty boys back to the surface so they can give nature the lickin’ she deserves after all this time. And the deal has been pretty good for humans over the years, because they need us to burn them and put them in the atmosphere so they can really teach mother nature a lesson with some climate change. We get to use the leftover heat and energy to do things like drive cars, keep houses warm, etc.
All up and down the old Interior Seaway, we’re seeing the same story. New Mexico is becoming an increasingly blue state, but we rely pretty heavily on the revenue from selling the old dinosaurs for other people to go burn, and the southeast part of the state is oil country just like the parts of Texas that are just across the state lines. All along flyover country, there’s a lot of oil. Businessmen all over the old Seaway want to keep drilling for it and burning it, and politicians tend to follow along.
So, this is something the U.S. and Canada have in common. Coastal states and provinces want to go green, while interior states with all of the liquid black revenge gold under them aren’t as happy with the idea. Some of us realize that helping the dinos get back at mother nature isn’t a great idea, because we rely on her for a lot of stuff, like food and air.
What She’s Saying Probably Makes More Sense To Americans Now
“We are a natural gas province. And we will continue to build natural gas power plants, because that is what makes sense in Alberta,” she said at a recent conference. She went on to cast renewable energy as a threat to the stability of the power grid, a threat to arable lands, and even a threat to nature. U.S. readers have seen this all before in the parts of the country that are at the bottom of the old Seaway.
Most CleanTechnica readers probably already know this, but she’s wrong. Grid instability can’t be blamed exclusively on the loss of renewable power in poor weather, because fossil fuel plants can succumb to the same forces of nature (she seems to be defending herself from the burning dinos these days). Once again, just like in Texas and other U.S. oil states, the same lies about renewables are being told to keep the dino-burning going, and with that the gravy train from selling the stuff.
But, just like here in New Mexico, some Albertans aren’t falling for it. When they asked her about the threat of climate change, she fell back on removing carbon from the air later. She figures that somebody else will clean up the mess later and keep it from hurting us in the future. In other words, she’s perfectly willing to kick that can down the road and let future generations pay for today’s irresponsibility.
The CBC article did give a fair rebuttal to the Premier’s comments, but they buried it in the second half of the article. Wind turbines can be winterized and keep running in cold weather. Solar panels are set up in snowy areas to let the snow melt and slide off. Solar and wind are also cheaper than fossil fuels these days, so they’re really not a great deal for investors or Canadians who need the electricity at reasonable prices.
But, expecting politicians to think for a bit about what makes sense is like asking the wind to not blow. It’s in their nature to keep donors and supporters happy. If the donors are able to buy enough supporters and sell lies to them, career politicians are more than happy to ride that wave into office and change their minds later if the political and financial winds shift. Or, they might not even have to worry about changing their minds publicly, because the shift will probably happen after they retire from politics.
In the meantime, all we can do is keep trying to share the truth with people. If we can let the dinos rest in peace, we can both save money and have more peace ourselves.
Featured Image: A rendering of the Western Interior Seaway. Image by Scott D. Sampson, Mark A. Loewen, Andrew A. Farke, Eric M. Roberts, Catherine A. Forster, Joshua A. Smith, Alan L. Titus, CC-BY-SA license.
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